Cross River to end 11-year old forest moratorium, evict green areas occupants
Cross River State Government has started putting modalities in place to end its 11-year old law on forest moratorium.
The law, which was put in place during the Senator Liyel Imoke regime as governor had banned logging due to activities of illegal logging in the state for two years, but 11 years running the law was still in place encouraging reckless logging in the state’s forest.
The Chairman Cross River State anti-deforestation Task-force, Odey Oyama said during a stakeholders’ meeting with members of Timber Dealers Association in Akim Timber Market, Southern Senatorial district and Ikom Timber Market in Central Senatorial District of Cross River State that more than a hundred trucks of timber leave the state weekly in spite of the ban on logging denying the state huge revenue.
Oyama said the meeting was necessary to facilitate a harmonious working relationship between members of the task force and the dealers who are the primary stakeholders in the forestry business.
Speaking with newsmen shortly after the stakeholders meeting, Oyama stated that the interactive session was a huge success as a lot of bridges have been mended and the dealers are now willing to corporate with government and pay the necessary fees as well as the community royalties.
He said, “I think I am happy about the outcome of the meeting, to the extent that all of them are willing to do the right thing. They have not been given an opportunity to dialogue with government. Since the establishment of task force, I think this is the first time; they’ve had a chance to sit with task force and discuss the problem we are all facing.
High point of the meeting was a resolution to commence declarations, which the Chairman said declaration is the stage in the logging business where loggers declare how many woods they have and in which of the forest the logs are situated. Then government goes for verification, computes payment and the loggers will now pay into government coffers and be issued clearance to evacuate the woods.
Oyama also informed that, he doesn’t expect his task-force to last forever as originally, the concept of a Task-force was only to step in, put things straight and step aside for the professionals to continue, noting that “it is the inadequacy of government officials in handling forestry issues that must have led to the setting up of task-force.
“Why did government at some point allow task-force to come? Why didn’t they allow it for the Professionals to go on? Why did government prefer to work with task-force? These are questions we should not be discussing here. There must be something wrong task force that’s why task force came about. But I am not in the opinion that Taskforce should last forever, No! Task force should come and heal the wounds where they have seen that there’s a wound.
“We need to heal it and go back and allow the professionals to continue the trade; because the forestry commission is the only equipped body, professionally trained to handle forestry management issues and not the Task-force, I believe that the Task-force is established for a particular purpose. So it important that our forestry commission comes back to what it used to be”.